Jean Jennings Bartik (12/27/24 – 3/23/2011)

Mar 28 2011 Published by under computing history, women

Jean Bartik, the last of the six "female computers" I blogged about last month, passed away last week.

CNN wrote a nice obituary. I liked this part a lot:

"Jean is probably one of the most significant pioneers in computing," Rickman said. "Jean worked hard and, as a woman in a man's world at that time, especially in the business world, it's amazing what she was able to accomplish."

Bartik graduated from Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in 1945 as the school's one math major. She recalled living on her parents' farm, refusing the teaching jobs her father suggested and avoiding all talk of marrying a farmer and having babies. Instead, she took a train to Philadelphia to work for the military.

Forget babies! I'm going to go program computers.

I love that. It was such a revolutionary thing to do in the 1940s. Hard to imagine in today's world how revolutionary that was.

The article ends with a quote from Jean:

In February, Bartik said women hadn't gotten far enough in technology, but she saw a promising future.

"Women are busily working on it," she said. "I have high hopes for them."

My thoughts go out to her family and friends. I hope they can take comfort in the fact that hundreds of women all over the world have been inspired by Jean, including this one.


PS - In case you were wondering, the banner at the top of my FCS blog features two other "female computers" who were Jean's contemporaries, Ester Gerston and Gloria Ruth Gorden. Here's a picture of Jean programming the ENIAC.

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